Years ago (indeed decades ago) in 6th grade, somebody had our class work on some lino cuts. That project may have been the beginning of my love for letterpress (or relief) printing.
Block cuts are a fairly immediate creative outlet. Sure, you can spend hours and even days working on a block, but you can also sit down and gouge one out fairly quickly and, with the aid of a brayer and a wooden spoon, have yourself a fist-full of prints in no time.
For finer lines, and for a longer lasting block, one must move on to wood cuts or wood engraving.
Like lino cuts, wood cuts are created using a cutting tool that is a sort of gouge. If you imagine a spoon with the bowl ground off half way to the handle and then sharpened, then you have the rough idea of what a wood (or lino) cutting tool looks like. The tools one uses are usually smaller than a spoon, and some have a bowl who’s bottom is triangular.
These tools are used to scoop out pieces of wood or lino. Everything that you leave behind, at the original surface of the block, gets covered with ink and prints onto paper.
Wood engraving uses a tighter grained block of wood (and the cut is made into the end grain) and the tool is a sheared off rod that sort of peels or shaves off bits of wood.
The shelf in this photo shows an assortment of blocks at the Nomadic Press.